Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not all homemade stuff is cheaper

Some of my friends have an impression that people try to do things at home by themselves just to save a few bucks. This is not true at all if you add your labor in making anything. Be it painting the walls or fixing the drywall or doing electrical wiring. Be it fixing plumbing or cooking for a crowd. If you add even the minimum value for your hard work, it gets more expensive than hiring someone to do it.

If there is something I can do by myself, I will try to do it. It is just me. It could be painting, fixing a faucet or fixing dry wall. It could be sewing a blanket or a window treatment. When it comes to food, be it making almond butter at home or home made almond milk or vegetable broth or pasta sauce or even fondant.
Since this is a food blog, let us stick to food. When I do all these experiments, I sometimes calculate how much it costs to do it at home vs. buying from the store. I do understand that home made always tastes better and is healthier, but sometimes it is just not worth it to try to make it at home.

Almond butter is cheaper to make at home compared to buying from the store on a condition. You need to buy almonds when there is a sale. When Costco started selling almond butter in big jars, I found out that it is cheaper to buy from there compared to making at home. Health wise, it doesn't matter if it is home made or store bought since there is no preservative added to this.

Vegetable broth is definitely cheaper to make at home and is extremely cheap if you use the pressure cooker method I have mentioned on this blog. Home made vegetable broth is better since it has no added sodium and you can control the flavoring to suit your need.

Fondant is extremely cheap if you make it at home and it tastes better too. Definitely healthy to make at home than use the store bought one.

When I said it is not worth it, making pumpkin puree is one such item. I have been making pumpkin puree at home for couple of years now. But, I sat down and calculated the cost difference this time. I bought a pumpkin for 2 dollars. I cleaned it and baked in the oven for an hour to make the puree. I got 6 cups of puree out of it. That is approximately equal to 3 cans of 15 Oz pumpkin puree. Each can of wegman's brand of pumpkin puree of 15 Oz costs me 95 cents. So, all in all I got 3 dollar worth of pumpkin puree for 2 dollars. This does not include the gas bill for turning the oven on for 1 hour. This made me think that it is not economical at all to make it at home. Health wise, they are the same since there is no preservative here either. It is economical to make it at home provided you are growing pumpkins and you are baking two full sheets of pumpkin at the same time.

Another item which is not worth to make at home is applesauce unless you grow your own apples.

I am listing some of the things that are healthier or cheaper to make at home compared to buying from the store. If you have any addition, leave a comment and I will update the list.

Cake Flour - cheaper
Bisquick or pan cake mix - cheaper and healthier (you can use zero trans fat shortening or even butter when made at home)
Self Raising flour - cheaper
Peanut Butter (Use the method mentioned in almond butter adding sugar if desired) - cheaper and healthier (no preservative)
Yogurt - Cheaper and healthier (no sugar, no gelling agent)
Light Brown Sugar - Cheaper (1 Cup white sugar + 1 TBSP Molasses mixed thoroughly)
Dark Brown Sugar - Cheaper (1 Cup white sugar + 2 TBSP Molasses mixed thoroughly)
Jam - Cheaper and healthier (You can control the sugar quantity and has no preservative)
Bread - Healthier (I am not saying cheap since you can get white sandwich bread for less than a dollar in some stores. But, it is healthy with few ingredients when baked at home compared to store bought any time)
Ghee - Cheaper to make at home with butter than buying pre made.

This list can go on and on. I will end it here and will add/update when I have some more inputs from readers/fellow bloggers.

Addition to the above list:
As Divya said in the comments, Hummus, Guacamole, pasta sauce are definitely healthier when made at home. Hummus and Guacamole is cheaper too, but pasta sauce comes up expensive when you make at home unless you are using home grown tomatoes.
Pesto is cheaper and healthier to make at home.

Soaking beans and pressure cooking is lot cheaper compared to buying canned beans (maybe not if you can grab them on sale). But I would definitely say it is healthier since the canned beans has so much of salt in them. Thanks Divya for reminding me to add these.

Even when I compared the cost and healthiness of something, if making something gives you pleasure, is therapeutic, then go ahead and make it and be happy. There is no value for something that brings you happiness.

Enjoy!! Pin It


  1. a very informative comparision post.

  2. Thats a very interesting post,thanks for sharing ur tips..

  3. Wonderful post. Very enlightening :)

  4. Really interesting post :) I make my own hummus, salsa, pasta sauce, guacamole and always use dry beans than canned beans.

  5. Very Informative ...
    Love to make my own White Sauce, Salsa Sauce , Porridge Powders at home..

  6. Oh i loved reading ur post so muc , fantastic study!!
    u make pickn of the shelves sound good, at some times:-)
    I wud love to pic pumpkin puree ,more coz of the deep color, but we bare,y see it around here!
    and bdw, my oven takes forever ,so i steam or boil it for the puree, u can dry the water later:-)

  7. This is a very interesting post, true, I have noticed that too, sometimes store stuff is cheaper...but its basically the mindset and the thrill you get from making things urself ;). Nice write up Champa.

  8. It was very interesting to know some of the facts and appreciate ourself that we take the pain for the inner happiness in making things at home. It is homemade and certainly there is no match to it. I read about your post on almond butter and Nutella and that is next on my plan to do! Very inspiring Lady :-)

  9. Thats one really interesting comparison!!! i didnt know that u can make brown sugar @ home!!!

  10. Good post and you have put a lof og thought into this...A few more things I wanted to add is that:
    I dont prefer to buy anything in a tin can.
    Pumpkin Puree can be made at home. Of course it does get a little more expensive. But chopping the pumpkin pieces a little more fine, brings down the baking down considerably.
    Better to freeze it at home in home containers than the cans.
    Buying almond butter on sale someties makes it old. I can never justify and use almond butter all at once. I can use it in smaller quantities. Many times for me Costco means wastage. Better to make fresh almond butter at home in small quantities now and then.
    Anothr thing which I actually buy in tetrapacks frm trader joes or whole foods is TOmato Puree. Very tangy and yummy and a whole lot cheaper than fresh tomatoes which are selling close to $3 a pound!!!



If you have a question and you leave it as a comment, I'll surely answer the question to the best of my knowledge. Thanks for visiting.